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Welding Primer 


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Welding Primer 

Written By: Mister Jalopy 


Diagonal cutters (1) 

Gloves (1) 

LCD welding helmet (1) 

Lincoln SP-135 Plus Wire-Feed Welder (1) 


If you need metal stuck together, there is no quicker path than buying a portable 1 10-volt 
wire-feed welder. 

Being a snob, I used to scoff at these small welders as not being serious machines. Then I 
started seeing them everywhere — at every auto body shop and every metal gate installer; 
even hooked up to a generator at drag races. 

Having used a Lincoln 135 Plus wire-feed welder (about $600) for a month or two, I'm not 
scoffing any longer. Granted, it is not structural. You can't weld a bridge, skyscraper, or 
engine mounts to a car frame. But you can weld steel up to 3/16ths, which is thick enough to 
make furniture, wrought iron gates, and bad art. 

The beauty of the small Lincoln welders is they are light and portable. And when you get to 
wherever you are going, you can plug them into a standard 1 10-volt 20-amp outlet. If you 
use the flux core kit, you don't even have to carry around a tank of compressed shielding 

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Welding Primer 


This article is not a replacement for the manual or the many excellent books devoted to 
welding. This is a primer to explain the process and show how you can be a welder by the 
end of the weekend. 

• Read about Flux Core (FCAW) vs. Shielded Gas Welding (MIG) 

• Read How the Lincoln Works 

• Welding is dangerous! RTFM and see American Welding Society to learn about 
hazards from fumes to pacemaker risks to dropping something on your foot! 

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Welding Primer 

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Note the dials adjust the speed of wire and amperage. Inside the welder side panel 
there is a handy cheat sheet with wire speed and amperage (heat) 
recommendations for different thicknesses of metal. 


The distance between the welding 
gun and wire end is called "stick- 
out". Squeeze the trigger and run 
the wire out an inch or two. 

Be careful! When the trigger 
is depressed the wire is 


energized and will weld to any 
grounded metal. 

Without touching the trigger, trim 
the wire stick-out to 3/8" beyond 
the copper gun tip. 

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Welding Primer 

• Tack welds are small, temporary 
spot welds that hold the metal 
together until you lay the final 
welding bead. 

• I am welding a pretty thick 
piece of metal (1" steel 
angle to a 6" steel plate) so I set 
the welder to G-3. The G 
represents welding amperage or 
heat and the 3 is the speed the wire 
is fed from the gun. 

• Hold the gun tip at a 45-degree 
angle to the corner joint. 

• Touch the wire to the work. 

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Welding Primer 

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Welding Primer 

• With the wire touching the work, 
your gun is 3/8" from the work. As 
the wire feeds, there is a natural 
tendency to follow right into the 
weld and dip your gun tip in the 
molten pool. Don't do that! When 
you pull the trigger, keep the gun at 
3/8" from the weld. 

• Make sure your welding 
hood is turned on! Make 
sure your welding area is clean and 
non-flammable as the sparks are 
going to fly! Make sure ground 
clamp is attached to the work. 

• Squeeze trigger. Release trigger. 

• How long? The puny weld on the 
left is about 1/2 second, while 
the whopper on the right is about 
2 seconds. About 1 second 
seems right. 

• Re-trim the stick-out between each 


TIP: To keep from burning 
your house down, make • 

sure your work area is swept clean 
of flammables and make sure 


you're standing on dry ground. 
Even if your rose garden or wood 
pile is eight feet away, sprinkle it 
with water, because sparks fly. 
Ideally, a steel welding table is 
swell, but that is a future welding 
project for you. A stack of bricks 
will work for now. 

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Welding Primer 

• Now try welding some final beads. 
As opposed to small tack welds, a 
bead is a continuous line of welded 

• According to the cheat sheet, 
this 6" steel should be welded at 
G-3, but I drew sample lines at 
other voltage and wire speed 
settings to gauge the effects of 
different settings. 

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Welding Primer 

• If you're right-handed, weld beads 
from left to right. Angle the gun 
slightly toward from the direction of 
travel at about 45° from the work. 
Remember to trim the stick-out 
before every weld. 

• Before you pull the trigger, run the 
gun over the path a couple times to 
make sure you are comfortable and 
you are not going to run into 

• Pull trigger with your 
dominant hand, brace with 
the other, and weld away from you, 
so you can watch behind the weld 
and see how it's going. Move gun 
from left to right. The correct speed 
depends on the material, the wire, 
the heat, the wire speed, and your 
skill. In time, you can watch the 
weld and figure out if you are going 
too fast or too slow, but to start, try 
moving along at about 1/4" per 

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Welding Primer 

• How did it go? Flux core welding 
can be a messy operation that 
creates lots of little metal droplets 
called spatter. And the weld is 
partially covered with slag. Scrub 
and pick the beads with a wire 
brush to get them as clean as is 

• Does your weld have lots of little 
bubbles, skipped spots, or is it just 
too thin? That was too fast. 

• Is the weld really wide and with a 
high crown? Too slow. 

The ideal bead is a perfect union of 
the wire (filler material) and the 
work (base material). Through 
experimentation, you can find the 
right amperage, wire feed speed, 
and the rate that you move the gun 
over the metal. 

This primer first appeared in MAKE Volume 03, page 158. 

This document was last generated on 201 2-1 1 -03 04:38:49 AM. 

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Welding Primer 

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